Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Work Hard, Play Hard

Work hard, play hard.

That is our family's philosophy (without ever really having discussed it).

The work part came last weekend in Woodstock.  Spring seems to be when we work on the house.  Summers are spent at the swimming hole, winters on the ski slopes, but spring is when we fix/clean/plant/paint/improve the property.


Kevin and I are feeling *really* proud of ourselves.  Before moving to New York, we were not at all handy.  When your father-in-law is like MacGyver and can fix anything at all and make it look effortless, and he lives just 8 minutes away, why would you ever learn to do anything yourself?  So once we no longer had our free handyman within driving distance, we started doing small things ourselves.  First we watched videos on how to replace the light fixture in the guest room.  Then I read articles on how to replace a toilet seat and install a European-wired chandelier.  But this weekend we graduated to installing wood flooring.

Here are the before pictures of the back house.  It had some nasty, stained linoleum.

I can't tell you how many YouTube videos I watched, but what I can tell you is that there is nothing you can't learn on YouTube.

Our local hardware store rents tools so we were able to rent a circular saw to cut the end pieces.  In just a few hours we had beautiful, new wood flooring down in the kids cabin.

This weekend we'll finish the quarter rounds along the edges.  We figured out the hard way that we're going to have to rent a nail gun for that.  Once those are in I'll get a nice photo of the finished flooring.

Our garden is going bonkers.  May is its heyday.  And I can see that this weekend when we go up the peonies (my favorite!) will be in bloom.  You couldn't keep me away.

The weather in both Woodstock and the city have been gorgeous and we've tried to spend as much time outside.  It's a fairly short window between being too cold to be out and being to hot and humid.

Holden had Zoo School this week and his sword fighting class in Central Park, and I joined my buddies on my friend's rooftop for some cocktails at sunset.

I even took Ella's book club out to Lincoln Center for lunch to enjoy the sunshine.

The current president of the Parents Association at Ella's school asked me if I would join him as co-president next year.  It's a two-year term and honestly, I don't think I totally know what I'm in for.  But we ran and were elected and now I'm committed to figuring it out over the next two years.

My first executive action was to host a Moms' Happy Hour last night at a bar near her school.  Middle school is different from elementary school in that the kids get to and from school on their own, so you don't have as much opportunity to meet the other parents at drop off and pick up.  I had no idea if anyone would show up to a happy hour but I thought it would be nice for us to get to know each other better.  I sent an invitation to the 8 email addresses that I had for moms at the school and told them to forward it to their friends.  We had at least 60 moms there last night!  The place was packed and everyone was so thankful to have an opportunity to get to know each other.

I think I have this president thing down better already than Trump.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother of all Museums

Last week Connie and I got to spend several hours in line for the pleasure to see a taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.  And it was worth it.  If only to see those bottomless dimples in person.


I also organized a field trip for a group of homeschoolers, back to the New York Historical Society.  This time we learned about art and nature by touring two gorgeous exhibits: the Hudson River School and John James Audubon.  We've seen many of the paintings of the Hudson River School when we visited one of the artists' homes up in the Hudson River Valley.  (The "school" was a group of painters who painted the valley in the mid-19th century.)  The museum has the largest collection of Audubon's paintings as well.  Apparently his widow needed cash when the museum was starting out, so she sold almost the entire collection to the NY Historical Society.  Holden is a big fan.  (Did you know that Audubon ATE all the birds he painted??)

For Mother's Day weekend we drove down to Washington DC and stayed with our friends Stephanie and Jonathan and their two kids.  Months ago we got online at 8am to get tickets to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The museum just opened last September and I've been hearing for months how amazing it is.  It did not disappoint.

We spent five hours in the museum and still didn't see or absorb it all.  You start in the basement, underground, as though you're in the hull of a slave ship.  As you rise floors and progress chronologically, the floors become more open with more light.  The top floor is a very positive display of the many achievements of African Americans in the US and contributions to art and culture.  It was a very moving and powerful experience and the designers obviously put a lot of thought into every detail.

We thought it might be too much for the kids at this age (plus, we didn't want to be rushed through), so we had a babysitter take the four little ones to the Air & Space Museum and the Natural History Museum instead, which turned out to be a good choice.  They had a blast running around the National Mall all day, parent-free.

Butterfly on the head!

Stephanie treated us all to an amazing Mother's Day brunch at their golf club on Sunday morning.  I hope all of you mothers out there had an equally fun Mother's Day filled with love.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Spring & Smoke

We went to a fantastic dinner party on Friday night - a two-mom couple from Ella's school who live just a couple blocks away - so we considered not going up to Woodstock on Saturday morning for what would just be an overnight trip.  Rain was forecast for the entire weekend and our plan had been to do some gardening.

I'm so glad we decided to go.


If you are ever coming to visit us in Woodstock, be sure it's in May.  Our garden is a magic wonderland right now.  Everything is in full bloom.  Technicolor.

In between the rain showers we worked on what will be our small veggie garden this year.  We'll be gone for all of July so we didn't want to go overboard, just do some experimenting.

Our trip upstate was brief but productive.

On Sunday night after we returned to the city and showered, Kevin and I finally got to check out the famous jazz club, Smoke.  Connie is still in town and she treated us to a wonderful dinner and jazz show.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bursting with Flowers, Art, and Culture

This weekend we'll head up to Woodstock only for a night since we were generously invited to dinner tonight at the apartment of a family from Ella's school.  But we knew we couldn't miss the entire weekend up there because last weekend the garden was about to POP!  Buds everywhere.  This weekend should be spectacular (if it doesn't rain too much).

Started our herb garden

Holden and I have continued to take advantage of being homeschoolers in New York City.


I'm turning him into a real opera lover.  He sat at rapt attention for three hours listening to and watching Cyrano de Bergerac in French.  As usual, we read the synopsis ahead of time so that we didn't have to waste too much time reading the subtitles.  The sets at the Metropolitan Opera continue to amaze me.


We saw an incredible production this week called Nivelli's War about a young German boy who is trying to return to his mother in Frankfurt during WWII.  He is befriended by a magician who helps him to get home only to reveal at the end that he's Jewish.  The children's theater in this city is out of this world.


I organized a tour for a group of homeschoolers at the New York Historical Society's new Center for Women's History - "the first of its kind in a museum this size."  That makes me both happy and sad at the same time.  The tour focused on the Founding Mothers who helped to shape America.  Appropriate for the month of Mothers Day, I thought.


Ella continues to get recognized for her hard work and compassion.  This week she added to her wall of certificates for being "Caught Being Good" at school.

And we all continue to socialize and make more and more friends here in the city.  I had coffee with one new friend, wine with another, and a picnic in Central Park with yet another this week (all three are moms from Ella's school).  I also organized a Moms' Happy Hour for the moms from the school to take place in a couple weeks.

Holden is still partying it up with sleep overs and birthday parties with his buddies.

We had a very nice visit from a woman who has known me all of my life and been a close friend to our family for decades.  We took Connie on a stroll through Harlem and to a favorite restaurant.  It was so nice to see her.

Kevin and I even got a little couple time on the gorgeous roof of the Metropolitan Museum, sipping wine while the kids took their final mythology class of the year.

No complaints here (as long as we're not talking politics).